Update on the BCMA’s Ongoing Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: November 2022
The BC Museums Association is committed to supporting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within the museum and cultural sector and in our own organizational practices. A key component of this commitment is being open and transparent with our community. We aim to provide quarterly updates about the steps we are taking to support justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. If you have feedback or would like to share your thoughts, we encourage you to contact us at any time. To read our past updates, please visit this page.
Jump to: New Updates
In September, the Canadian Museums Association released its Moved to Action report reviewing Canada’s national museum policies and offering recommendations for how our sector can action the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This document offers recommendations for paradigm shifts in how museums both reckon with their pasts and work in collaboration with Indigenous communities to build a better future. As the BCMA continues work on its new strategic plan, it is critical that we reflect on how we can act on these recommendations in our own work.
Section 6 of the Moved to Action report reflects on how the principles of UNDRIP can be applied to museum governance, stating, “UNDRIP does not simply call for equality regarding decisions over the manifestation and management of intellectual property and cultural heritage. It is very clear that Indigenous people must have control over these things and so museums will need to make space within their governance structures to ensure this.” In other words, museums and heritage organizations that care for Indigenous cultural materials, tell the stories of Indigenous communities, or work to support Indigenous communities, must adapt their governance structures and bylaws to protect the decision-making autonomy of Indigenous peoples. As the report notes, the day of the volunteer Indigenous advisory committee with no institutional decision-making authority is over and museums must find new ways of actioning UNDRIP in their governance structures.
One of the primary reasons the BCMA posts quarterly JEDI updates for its members and community is to be transparent about the work we are doing and the questions we are grappling with. The BCMA has the privilege of working with an amazing Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC), who along with BCMA Council and staff, are using our current strategic planning work to reflect on the future of this committee and how the BCMA can better implement UNDRIP in its governance and decision making.
UNDRIP-informed governance and power-sharing need to become the norm in the museum sector, but at this point in time, there are not many examples of these principles being put into practice. While the Moved to Action report is helpful in identifying current and historical problems with museum leadership and governance, it is not able to provide a concrete roadmap for addressing these longstanding inequalities. In other words, the report identifies what needs to change and where our sector needs to end up, but it doesn’t show us how to get there. It is my sincere hope that through the BCMA’s current strategic planning work, the Association can act on UNDRIP within our governance and leadership structures and provide members with tangible examples of how this work can be done.
It is important that the BCMA doesn’t merely promote values to our members, we must live those values through our actions. Thank you to the members and partners who have contributed to our strategic planning work. I look forward to sharing more information about this work and how it will shape the future of the BCMA early in the new year. Until then, if you have ideas or examples of how museums can action UNDRIP in their leadership and governance, I would love to connect with you. Please reach out to me at any time.
BCMA Executive Director
The BCMA held its first in-person Tea and Talk session during our November Joint Conference with Heritage BC. We received positive feedback from the approximately 30 attendees who also expressed interest in additional opportunities to engage and connect with one another in person.
The recent BCMA IBPOC Network Survey continues to generate valuable information about how the Network can better serve IBPOC professionals in our sector. BCMA staff continue to meet with the IBPOC Museum Professionals Network Advisory Group to improve and expand programming and resources based on this and other feedback.
We’re continuing the development of a series of practical sessions around topics like community care and conflict resolution. The goal of these sessions is to provide space for attendees to discuss and practice tools that can be employed in the workplace.
Lastly, the BCMA IBPOC Listserv continues to grow. If you would like to join an expanding network of IBPOC professionals, share resources, or seek advice, please consider signing up on our website.
We continue to strive to provide effective programming and safe(r) spaces for all British Columbians who identify as IBPOC/BIPOC museum, heritage, and cultural professionals. If you have any suggestions or questions about the IBPOC Network, please email Jazmin Hundal.
BCMA & Heritage BC Joint Conference
After two years of fully virtual conferences, the BCMA hopes to test new models and formats for in-person gatherings and to avoid immediately returning to the status quo. Our November joint conference with Heritage BC was held entirely in member venues on Lekwungen territory in Greater Victoria (and on the lands of the T’Sou-ke First Nation in Sooke) and did not use any commercial event venues.
While we recognize that this format posed some challenges for the physical accessibility of our conference, it gave us a great deal more flexibility to make attending the conference more affordable. By experimenting with this new cost model for our 2022 conference in Victoria, we have been able to offer a lower registration fee than our previous 2017 Victoria conference, offer nearly $15,000 in subsidies and complimentary registrations, and not charge our 30+ speakers and presenters registration fees.
Nearly 100% of all conference expenses went to local businesses and nonprofits, including more than $8,000 going to Indigenous-owned businesses.
Moving forward we hope to offer diverse conference experiences that cater to the widest possible learning styles, professional development budgets, and accessibility needs. Our goal is for the BCMA conference to not just take one form, but offer a variety of sizes and formats year to year. Our thanks go out to everyone who attended the conference in person and to the hundreds of members who watched our free plenary live streams. We look forward to sharing our exciting 2023 conference plans soon!
BCMA Book Club – CMA Moved to Action Report
Following up on the first book club where BCMA members came together to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action, we are now bringing members together to read and discuss the CMA’s recent Moved to Action report. The book club will meet online monthly from November 8 to February 7 to read through the report in sections and discuss each one together. At the time of writing, there are 30 people registered for the new round of the book club.
2020 Repatriation Grants
Members of the BCMA will be travelling to Prince George on December 3 to witness the opening of the Susk’uz Headdress Exhibit, a repatriation partnership between the Maiyoo Keyoh Society and The Exploration Place. The work to repatriate an ancestral headdress from the Royal Ontario Museum was funded in part by the 2020 Repatriation Grants. In addition to attending the opening, the BCMA team is providing the Maiyoo Keyoh Society with communications and live-streaming support for the event. We will share a live stream link for those who are interested in watching the event.
One of the central strategic priorities of the BCMA is to advocate not only for the needs of our members, but for funding, legislation, and action that support long-overdue change in the heritage sector. Recently the BCMA has been able to advocate for the following changes and investments on provincial and federal levels:
- Cost of Living Funding Increases: In partnership with the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture and peer arts service organizations (ASOs), advocating that the Province of BC use some of its recently announced surpluses to offer inflationary cost of living increases to the BC Arts Council budget. The recent inflation crisis has disproportionately impacted arts, culture, and heritage organizations and is especially challenging for emerging and underemployed culture workers. Fair wages and decent work are essential to building a more equitable sector and the BCMA is advocating to all levels of government for living wages. The chronic underfunding of our sector only serves to impede long-overdue equity work and puts racialized and under-represented communities at greater risk of harm.
- Meaningful Changes to Canada’s National Museum Policy: The Department of Canadian Heritage is undertaking the most significant review of Canada’s national museum policy in nearly 30 years. This policy influences federal funding programs like the Museum Assistance Program and Young Canada Works, and also informs federal heritage management and repatriation policies. This will be the first opportunity in a generation to advocate for long-overdue changes to the national policy. The BCMA is working with our partners at National, Provincial, and Territorial museum associations to coordinate a sector-wide advocacy response. To truly move the needle in a meaningful way, we will need our members’ support. The BCMA will publish a national museum policy advocacy toolkit in the near future and will share more information on how you can support this critical work.
The BCMA and Animikii Indigenous Technology are partnering to co-develop a new online course offering wise practices in reconciliation for arts, culture, and museum workers. There is no one path to creating meaningful, trusting relationships with Indigenous communities, so this online course will include interviews, case studies, and readings from diverse organizations that share educational successes and failures to empower museum and heritage professionals to reflect on their own practices, organizations, and community contexts.
Work on this online course began in the summer of 2022 with community and museum consultations happening in the fall and winter. The BCMA hopes to launch a beta version of the course in early 2023.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the 150 Time Immemorial Grant Program and the BC Arts Council Impact Grant as well as the Government of Canada through the Museum Assistance Program’s Digital Access to Heritage grant.
Honesty and transparency are a critical part of this work and we welcome our members’ feedback on how we can continue growing and improving. If you have questions, comments, or thoughts, please contact us at any time. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss how the BCMA can support your organization’s own justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion work, we would be happy to hear from you. This work will take time, but together we can use the transformative power of museums to reinvent our sector for the betterment of everyone.